back to article DARPA: Give us solar cells you can use to build stuff

US military brainiacs have notified the boffinry community that they need a new miracle material called "Power Skin", which would "harvest" energy from its surroundings and also be strong enough to make robots out of. The Power Skin notion comes of course from DARPA, the Pentagon techwar shop where they're not at home to …


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  1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Why don't they look at their old research?

    They cancelled a promising project to develop a UAV with months of endurance in 1964.

  2. Michael Necaise

    Perhaps you did not read the page

    Perhaps you did not read the page you linked to. Project Pluto was cancelled, in large part, because the powers that be decided that flying an unshielded nuclear reactor fueled by highly enriched uranium which spit super-heated radio-nucleotides out it's ass end was a bad idea. Besides the bombs it was slated to carry, the plan was to crash the plane into an enemy target because the radioactive fallout from the reactor would do substantial damage. Let's hope it never crashes over our own or our allies territory. Yeah, this looked like a good idea all right. Sure.

  3. Rob
    Thumb Up


    that could be interesting, there would probably be a fair bit of stress generated in an airframe that might be harvestable.

  4. steward

    Mister Cockup?

    "DARPA, the Pentagon techwar shop where they're not at home to Mister Practical; but where rooms are always kept prepared for Mister Unfeasible and his old chum Mister Cockup."

    So I take it El Reg regards the Internet as impractical and unfeasible?

  5. Graham Marsden

    It's easy to make...

    ... all they need is a supply of unobtainium...

  6. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    cut-to-size power storage & generation

    Neat. If you can make it work of course.

    "Project Pluto." That would be the nuclear ramjet?

  7. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Paris Hilton

    Where do i submit my bid.

    i have a few old batteries and solar cells laying around...

    ill just grind them up and mix them with unpolymerized carbonates and expose to UV for curing..

    but first send me my U$3 mil (oh and 2700 ounces of cold for contacts)

    paris cause she will help me spend it

  8. Anonymous Coward

    I claim the contract!

    My drone will swoop low at night harvesting Methane from herds of cows,goats, donkeys or camels, disguised as a vulture.

    It shall henceforth be know as the Bovine Ultra Low Level Subtle Herd Infiltration Transformer!

    mwahahaha, muwhahaha

  9. JC

    What's The Holdup?

    What are they waiting on? Vacuum deposit the solar cells onto the plane skin and produce long battery tubes you weld into a frame. This is entirely do-able right now, are they holding out just to try and find even more weight reduction or did they expect custom manufacturing at the cost of a pack of AA cells? It's a government agency, the requirement to spend bucket loads of money is there even if it could've been done cheaply, so the main issue seems to be making it cost even more by drawing out the process until people are screaming and throwing even more money at them to finish up already.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    What about NASA's project Helios? Seems to be a good starting point.

  11. Pete



  12. Xris Middleton


    So the "Power Bone" is used to create a "Power Skeleton" which is covered in a "Power Skin" thus unleashing on the world some sort of unstoppable solar powered cybernetic machines. If this were to happen the ony way for mankind to survive would be to block out the sun with......wait a minute.

    BTW- Why has no Bond Villan ever come close to something as awesome and destructive as Project Pluto. I know what i'll be building in my volcano lair.

  13. Dave


    The whole point of DARPA is to get people to investigate things that they might never have thought of doing, and/or things that have too little commercial use to be worth the research costs.

    At first glance, this fits neither of those categories. If anyone has the slightest inkling that this is possible, my advice is to make sure that you have private investment, so that the Government can't just take the results off you.

  14. michael

    2 things

    "DARPA, the Pentagon techwar shop where they're not at home to Mister Practical; but where rooms are always kept prepared for Mister Unfeasible and his old chum Mister Cockup."

    1. love that sentance

    2. the standard wackiboffinry formal is that you need to fund 100 unfeasible projects to get one world changing invention

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